The big market news of this week may have been supplied by China, where the major stock indexes fell 8.5% on Monday, after which the government said it would prop up the market by buying shares and warned against the “malicious shorting of stocks.” Bloomberg reported earlier this month that China’s Ministry of Public Security, its police ministry, used similar language about shorting and said it would work with the government’s securities regulator to probe short selling by institutions.
However, additional market-moving news this week occurs on Tuesday, when the Conference Board announces its monthly Consumer Confidence Index; on Tuesday and Wednesday, when the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meets; and on Thursday, when the Commerce Dept’s Bureau of Economic Analysis will provide its first estimate of second-quarter GDP. The Wall Street Journal’s monthly consensus estimate of GDP is for 2.7% growth in Q2, following Q1’s 0.2% decline.
So where do the markets and economy stand as of the last week of July?
In his weekly commentary published Monday, BlackRock’s global chief investment strategist, Russ Koesterich, noted U.S. stocks’ “abysmal” performance in the previous trading week, blaming “disappointing” revenue growth for U.S. corporations — notably IBM, Yahoo “and even Apple” — even though U.S. corporate earnings are beating expectations over all. He’s especially concerned that the strong dollar was cited by several firms for their revenue shortfalls and said the dollar’s strength may remain a problem in Q3.
Koesterich said “other developed markets are faring better,” particularly in Europe as concerns in Greece fade “at least temporarily” and with European earnings per share showing an average 15% increase so far this quarter. BlackRock also likes Japan, where he said the stock market is being buoyed by big Japanese institutions, especially the three largest public-sector pension plans, buying up more domestic equities. Improved earnings in Europe and those Japanese institutions’ stock buying “underscore why we believe European and Japanese equities can continue to outperform U.S. stocks.”
In his weekly commentary, Bob Doll, chief equity strategist for Nuveen Investments, agreed that U.S. corporate earnings have been healthy and expressed concern over revenues, which he said are “stuck in neutral.” Uncertainty over global growth prospects and Fed policy may keep equities “stuck in a trading range,” though the expected rise in U.S. GDP “should allow corporate earnings to improve, helping stock prices to “grind unevenly higher.” Doll argues that September remains “the most likely starting point for the Fed’s first rate hike,” and that there won’t be any “significant news” coming out of this week’s FOMC meeting. He also said there appears to be improvement in the job market, noting that last week’s initial jobless claims number dropped to the lowest level in 42 years.
However, Doll expressed concern over several market technicals that he said “appear stretched” specifically that the “advance/decline line and upside/downside volume have started to trend in a negative direction” in July. While admitting those technicals “may mean nothing,” he said they suggest that equities are “due for a period of consolidation that may last several weeks or longer.”
— Check out Bob Doll’s 10 Predictions for 2015 on Markets, Economy on ThinkAdvisor.